The Automotive composites Alliance is pushing thermoset plastic composites for a wide variety of applications in hybrid cars, including modules that contain the battery pack, electronic controller and wiring harness. In the US the modules are typically made of several metal stampings which are assembled. Use of composites could reduce the module to two pieces with major savings in weight as well as tooling investment. “Unlike metal, composites don’t conduct electricity, therefore providing an extra safety advantage,” says the Alliance report. “They also won’t corrode and allow integrated airflow cooling in the module’s tunnel, all adding to longer battery life.”
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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